Saturday, April 30, 2005

You know you're in Minnesota when...'re mowing your lawn and it starts to snow.

It started out as a nice day, mid 40's at 10am and the temperature was rising. I needed to take my new Toro Recycler out for a spin. Most of the others in the neighborhood mowed their lawn last weekend, so mine was beginning to look a bit ragged.

About 30 minutes into mowing the lawn a cold front moved in, it got windy, and it started to snow. Just a light snow, nothing that stuck and it only snowed for a few minutes, but it definitely was kinda surreal.

It took me about 45 minutes, maybe an hour, to mow the lawn. It's a big yard. What was I thinking? All in all though, I suppose it's not too bad, and definitely not hard work since the mower is self propelled (and the handlebar is the throttle, so the faster you walk, the faster it goes -- up to about 4.5mph). I then spent a while figuring out how to turn the water back on for the sprinkler system (it had been purged for winter and it took me a while to figure out that I had to screw closed the air pressure fitting that was used to purge the system). Once that was solved I had to figure out the sprinkler system controls and tested all of the zones (all nine of them). Only one sprinkler head had issues, and it was just buried under some thatch. A little digging with my fingers and it popped up right in my face. Boy is the water cold!

In a week or two I'll buy a weed whacker/edger to take care of the grass growing through the retaining wall blocks and to make sure it looks nice along the sidewalk. I think a saw a neighbor using a battery powered weed whacker. That might be a better choice than a two-stroke gas powered one, though some of the new gas powered ones have an interchangeable system of heads to do different things, which might make it worthwhile dealing with the hassle of yet another gasoline powered yard appliance.

Time to do some research.


Last night I went out with a coworker and his wife to see Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and get dinner.

I was largely unimpressed with the movie. It wasn't nearly as funny as I was expecting. I smiled through much of it, though I laughed only a couple of times. And what disappointed me the most was that it wasn't really a "big-screen movie". The special effects were nothing all that special and the plot was nothing too interesting (standard boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy searches for girl kind of story with very few, if any, plot twists). I liked the commentary from the very much, however.

The dinner afterwards was very nice. We went across the street to an Outback, had a couple of drinks and a light dinner. We talked about nothing special. In fact, I can't even remember what we talked about just a few hours later. Just the basic kind of "getting to know you" kind of chatting since I hadn't ever been out to dinner with them before. They are very nice people, down to earth, intelligent, and funny. Good people.

I hope we can get to do it again some time soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Saturday I went out shooting with my friend Dave. He had a Beretta 9mm hand gun, and a folding stock 9mm rifle that used the same magazines. I liked the Beretta, and it seemed to like me too.

I hadn't shot a hand gun in over 15 years, so my first attempt at 25' was pretty good.

As was my second...

And my third...

So I moved back to 50' because Dave mentioned I would be running through the targets quite rapidly at that rate. 50' was more fun too.

Almost makes me want to go out and get a Beretta of my own.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Fat's not so bad?

I read this article about the CDC reclassifying obesity as the 7th most preventable cause of death, down from 2nd. They reclassified the number of deaths down from 365000 to about 25000. That's quite a swing. Makes you wonder what they were looking at the first time around. They're wondering too, so they're not going to be talking about these numbers too loudly.

However, I like the graphic in the article best. It shows that being underweight actually causes more deaths than being overweight. Of course, those numbers are coming from the CDC, so I wonder how accurate those numbers really are.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Today was a beautiful day to take the motorcycle to work. On Friday and Saturday it rained, and rained, and rained some more, probably dropping an inch or more. I expected this to have done a good job of cleaning the roads.

However, I suppose that the wind blew a lot of stuff from the side of the road into the middle, up against the center divide because when I got off the freeway and turned left, I found myself staring at about 15 pounds of sand right on my line. I didn't think much of it, but slowed down and tried to take the corner reasonably upright. However, sand is evil and it reached up and grabbed me, trying to pull me down. I gave it a swift kick and it released me. Disaster averted. Definitely exciting though.

I think the city must have noticed this as well because they had multiple street sweepers out cleaning around the center divides. They had a giant orange sand truck running interference for the sweepers as they moved against traffic. It was quite odd for a couple of reasons. One, street sweepers are large enough to be seen quite well on their own. Why the sand trucks? And two, why did they need to run against traffic to clean the center divide? Don't they have brushes on both sides? Very strange.

Hopefully the sand will be gone by the time I get back from work tomorrow.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Life is made up of little moments, all interconnected, sometimes blurring together, but distinguishable none the less. Lately I've been more in tune with myself and the world around me so that I can better appreciate these moments as they come.

There were a few interesting moments on the motorcycle last week. One where I went into a corner too quickly and had a moment of panic as I thought I might not make the corner. I quickly overcame the panic, realized that I was hardly leaned over at all, leaned over more, looked through the corner and made it out no problem. The moment had passed, but I'll remember it for quite some time.

There was another moment, again on the motorcycle, at the crest of a hill where I was distracted by a semi coming at me, crowding me in my lane as it passed a car stopped on the side of the road. I looked forward to notice the car in front of me was stopped. Once again, I quickly panicked and recovered. I made a gentle curve onto the (quite wide) shoulder. I easily missed the stopped car, but if I had been in my car, things wouldn't have gone quite so nicely. Strangely this moment doesn't stand out as much as the first, though it probably should.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Cats and Dogs

Here are a couple of interesting links from news of the weird about man's best friend, and cats. :-)

Pit bulls rescue woman from attacking chow. [AP] Wait, isn't it supposed to be the other way around?

Black lab saves golden lab that falls down a cliff. [AP] It's like an episode of Lassie, only with an all dog cast!

And the one I'm still not quite sure about, Wisconsin residents are contemplating reclassifying stray cats into the same category as squirrels, skunks, and gophers. [AP] This will make it legal to shoot them on sight (is there a hunting season for them, or is it year round?) Apparently Minnesota has had a similar law for many years. And it's not like it will make it legal to hunt them in the cities, only in the back country. Still, how many hunters can tell if a cat has a collar on (and therefore isn't legal for shooting) from any distance? Tough issue.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

April 12, 2005

Today is the one year anniversary of my layoff from Apple.

Definitely need to do something interesting for lunch with my new coworkers.

Not bad all things considered.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Shot! part Deux

Here is a link to a picture of the BB strike.

I don't know a whole lot about fire arms, but I do know that even a BB pistol will put a BB clean through an 1980's truck's windshield, but won't break skin at point blank (touching) range through jeans (don't ask). This may not be a BB, it may be a pellet, or it might have been one heck of a June bug. Seeing as how it's exactly 90 degrees to the direction of travel of the car, it seems unlikely to have been a rock kicked up by the tires.

Take a look at the (sorry, slightly blurry) picture, with my index finger for scale, and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


A few days ago (maybe Thursday evening) I was driving my Focus in Cottage Grove and heard BANG! I thought it was a monster rock that was kicked up by one of the tires, but the next day I discovered what it really was.

The car had been shot! It looks like a BB hit just above the rear driver's side tire on the fender lip. It dented the fender, leaving a perfect imprint of a perfectly round object, a dent within a dent. This caused the paint to spall from the front of the fender, leaving a bare spot about the size of my fingernail. I've not had a chance to check the back of the fender (fender liner covers it) to see if the paint was also ejected from there. Hopefully it wasn't, but I'd bet it's cracked, which is basically just as bad.

The problem with this is that the shock wave from the impact caused the paint to separate from the metal, and if you don't grind that paint off back to the point where it's solidly affixed to the metal, the fender is going to rust from within. And that would be a "Bad Thing".

So just dabbing on some (a lot) of touch up paint isn't really going to be even an OK fix. But, sanding the paint some means that I must be able to paint the fender perfectly, both base and clear coat, and possibly even a primer. I don't think I have the skills for that (not to mention time), and I don't think this is the time to learn.

On the other hand, the body shop wants $300 to fix it, and it's unlikely that the cost would go up dramatically if they were to have fix my screw-up plus the BB damage. Still, I think it's probably just easier to let them fix it right from the start. Maybe I can find someone that will do it a little cheaper...

However, I can't help but think, where the heck have I moved to? I thought that the Midwest was supposed to be land of down-home good people. Instead I get robbed within 5 months of moving here and have my car shot within 9 months. This isn't a good trend and I hope it stops right now.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

OK weekend

This weekend wasn't quite as lazy as I wanted it to be, but it wasn't as active as it could have been either. A good combination I would say. Some of the highlights include...

On Saturday I spent an hour straightening up the main garage, moving some car specific stuff (tires mainly) out to the second garage to make room in the main garage for the shop area I want to get set up. Rooted through some boxes to find the good stuff and put the rest up in the attic. Getting close, but still needs a lot of work to get it really organized.

I then spent about an hour putting up the rear speakers of my surround sound setup. I hadn't put them up because I wasn't planning on turning my living into my home theater. Eventually, I decided that it's going to take quite some time to get the basement into home theater mode, and I shouldn't suffer poor movie audio in the mean time. Plus they were too expensive to be kept in a box! Tested them out by watching Point Break. A good movie with some really bad acting from Keanu Reeves, but it has DTS audio and I hadn't seen it in a while.

Today, Sunday, I was planning on going for a motorcycle ride with a coworker, but as of 3pm it doesn't look like that's going to happen. Bummer. But at least that kicked me into gear to get the side panel on my bike replaced. A few months ago, while I was away in CA and the bike was parked at work, where I'm told it would be safe, it seems some juveniles came by and pushed my coworker's bike into mine (trying for the domino effect?). They succeeded in getting his bike to fall into mine, breaking a $185 plastic side panel, but luckily my bike stayed upright.

Tonight I'm hoping that it will stay warm enough for me to ride the bike to my weekly Sunday night meeting with friends in Minneapolis. It's about 65F today, but with clear skies, the nights can quickly dip below freezing (though not far below). It's about a 25 mile ride into the city where we meet, which is a little longer than I can deal with a negative whatever wind chill (it doesn't have to be too cold, once you factor in that 70mph wind, to freeze you to the bone). If not this weekend, there will be plenty of others.